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      Mimouna Festival Celebrated in Israel

      Post-holiday joy and political declarations were the order of the day at the traditional Mimouna celebrations around the country.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 4/6/2010, 10:44 AM / Last Update: 4/6/2010, 10:37 AM

      Post-holiday joy and political declarations were the order of the day at the traditional Mimouna celebrations around the country.

      While Jews abroad celebrate an eighth day of Passover on Monday night and Tuesday, many Jews in Israel - especially those of Moroccan descent – are celebrating the Mimouna.  

      Mimouna is a Jewish post-Passover celebratory tradition brought to Israel by immigrants from North Africa. It begins with a festive meal, with families gathering together and opening their doors to neighbors to enjoy singing, traditional foods and spiritual nourishment for the coming months. It was celebrated publicly in Israel for the first time in 1966. In 1968, it was celebrated by some 5,000 people in Sanhedria Park, which had returned to Jewish hands just a year earlier during the Six Day War. The Mimouna's popularity as a public event has grown each year and is now celebrated nationally by hundreds of thousands of people.

      One of the main centers of the commemorations takes place in Sacher Park in Jerusalem, where President Shimon Peres was a guest of honor on Monday night. He took the opportunity to offer a dose optimism, saying, “The Passover holiday this year is the best we’ve had in many years. There was never such a large concentration of Jews in Israel as there is now – close to seven million – and there was never such a blossoming economy, and we have never had such security capabilities. The land was never so effervescent; I heard that 2.5 million people went on hikes and trips this holiday – and we can allow ourselves to be happy about this.”

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commemorated the Mimouna, for the sixth time, with long-time family friends Chaim and Simi Fahima in Or Akiva. Netanyahu and his wife, together with the mayor of Or Akiva, near Hadera, took part in the dedication of the new home of a son of the Fahimas. Chaim and Simi made Aliyah from Morocco in the 1950’s, and have nine children, 26 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. “This is a wonderful home filled with love of mankind,” Netanyahu said, “and I congratulate them with all my heart.”

      “Construction will continue in the south, north, and certainly in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said.

      The Prime Minister will take part later today in the central Mimouna event in Kiryat Ata, near Haifa, together with Cabinet ministers, Knesset Members and mayors from around the country.

      Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Education Minister Gideon Saar were in Maaleh Adumim for the Mimouna on Monday night. Saar reiterated the long-known Israeli stance that Maaleh Adumim, just east of Jerusalem, will remain Israeli under any future agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

      Mimouna: Expression of Faith
      The Mimouna marks the hope and belief [emunah in Hebrew, possibly related to the word "Mimouna", according to some] that just as the Jewish People were redeemed on Passover, so too they will merit the Final Redemption "speedily in our days."

      Another explanation given for this day is that because of the stringencies against eating leavened bread [chametz] on Passover, many people would not eat at each other's homes throughout the holiday. The Mimouna is a chance to renew ties between families and neighbors, showing that the Jews are united in brotherly love. The motto of the Mimouna is the phrase : Tirvechu vetisadu, (feel at home and partake of our food). It is the opinion of some scholars that the source of the name Mimouna is Maimon, father of the Rambam (Maimonides).